Es:sensual presents a continuation of Cuban pianist-composer Omar Sosa’s collaboration with Hamburg’s NDR (North German Radio—Norddeutscher Rundfunk) Bigband and Brazilian cellist-composer-arranger Jaques Morelenbaum, whose inaugural effort can be heard on Omar Sosa-NDR Bigband CD Ceremony (Otá, 2010).
Recorded at NDR’s Hamburg studios under the direction of Sosa and Morelenbaum, Es:sensual features the latter’s vivid arrangements of selections from Omar’s CDs Free Roots (1997), Mulatos (2004), Live à FIP (2006), Promise (2007), Across the Divide (2009), and Ilé (2014).Sosa, Morelenbaum, and the NDR Bigband extend their many influences in a contemporary contribution to the expansive universe of world jazz, where Sosa resides as a generous, abundant, and ecstatically inspired creative spirit. Omar possesses an incomparable capacity to bring the most diverse traditions into fruitful juxtaposition, moving through and far beyond his influences, from the folkloric to the classical, while sustaining a singular and joyous cosmopolitan voice. Omar is an artist who’s constantly seeking new combinations, and each of his projects is marked by a revelatory spirit of creative freedom.
Rooted in Afro-Cuban spiritual and percussive traditions, and intimately versed in a range of contemporary world musics, Omar’s finely textured compositions present Morelenbaum with the foundation to summon forth an expansive palette of sounds, inspiring the NDR Bidband’s brilliant soloists, maximizing the ensemble’s sonic potential, and providing ample latitude for Sosa’s own luminous keyboard improvisations.
Es:sensual pays tribute to the majestic figures of Afro-Cuban big-band jazz—Frank “Machito” Grillo, Chico O’Farrill, Cachao, Mario Bauzá, Dizzy Gillespie, and Chano Pozo—while also drawing inspiration from Cuban luminaries such as Armando de Sequeira Romeu, Peruchín, Pancho Quinto, Lázaro Ros, Lili Martínez, Benny Moré, Arsenio Rodríguez, Rubén González, Frank Emilio Flynn, Bebo Valdés, and a succeeding generation of artists including Chucho Valdés, Paquito D’Rivera, and the revolutionary conjunto Irakere.
This project grew from Omar’s conversation some years ago with Hamburg producer Stefan Gerdes of NDR, who facilitated the connection with Morelenbaum, a celebrated arranger known for his trailblazing work with Antonio Carlos Jobim, Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Gal Costa, Cesária Evora, and Mariza, among many others.
The NDR Bigband, under principal conductor and arranger Jörg Achim Keller, is an ensemble of consummate soloists whose talents have been highlighted through the work of such noted arrangers as Michael Gibbs, Steve Gray, and Colin Towns. NDR Bigband collaborations comprise a virtual “Who’s Who” of world jazz, including Chet Baker, Oscar Brown, Jr., Paquito D’Rivera, Pee Wee Ellis, Joe Gallardo, Lionel Hampton, Dave Holland, Abdullah Ibrahim, Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, Pat Metheny, Joe Pass, Joe Sample, Maria Schneider, and Wayne Shorter.